politics to go

Should America ditch the Iran deal?


President Trump says he has made a decision on whether or not the U.S. will withdraw from the Iran nuclear deal, also known as the P5+1 deal and officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). While I have no knowledge of the president’s decision I do know that the Iran deal you were told about by President Obama and his cronies is not the real Iran deal.

The reason the JCPOA isn’t the “real” Iran deal is that parts of deal were hidden from the public, and the Obama administration lied to America about other parts. A member of the Obama administration even admitted it. In a May 2016 New York Times Magazine piece, Ben Rhodes, who was Obama’s Deputy National Security Advisor for Strategic Communications, explained how he led the administration’s efforts to misrepresent the truth in order “to sell” the “Iran deal.”

By law, President Trump must tell Congress whether or not he will certify Iran’s compliance with the P5+1 deal almost immediately after Simchat Torah (Oct. 15). Even if he does not certify Iran as compliant, the president would have to take a separate action to pull out of the deal.

From the point of view of U.S. law, since the deal was not a treaty but an executive action, Trump would not need Congressional approval to cancel it, but he is likely to seek their approval anyway.

The only way to fairly judge the JCPOA’s value to the U.S. is to include the elements of the deal that Obama administration lied about or kept secret, including these:

•The P5+1 deal gives Iran the capacity to enrich for BOMBS but NOT for power plants. The deal says that Iran can enrich fuel for peaceful purposes. However, under the agreement, Iran is allowed to keep 6,104 centrifuges. Former deputy director of the CIA Mike Morell told Charlie Rose in February 2015 that number centrifuges to will allow Iran to enrich enough uranium to produce bombs, but not enough for a program of nuclear power plants.

•The JCPOA lifted the ban on the Iranian ballistic missile program. Before the deal, U.N. Security Council (UNSC) Resolution 1929 stated that “Iran shall not undertake any activity related to ballistic missiles capable of delivering nuclear weapons.” The P5+1 resolution passed by the UNSC changed the language and does not prohibit Iran carrying out ballistic missile work but simply asks them not to carry out ballistic missile development. The resolution states: “Iran is called upon not to undertake such activity.”

•The deal allows Iran to go nuclear after ten years. Do you remember when John Kerry insisted the Iran Nuclear deal was a “forever deal?” That was a lie. Some provisions expire after year 10, and the rest of them after year 15. Based on the agreement, by the end of year 15, Iran could have in place a nuclear infrastructure that would allow it to create a few nuclear weapons within months.

•The promised sanction “snap-backs” don’t really exist. In Sept. 2015 the Washington Free Beacon reported that President Obama gave Europe, China and Russia a written promise that the U.S. will guarantee that their companies which make deals with Iran would not have to stop working with Iran should sanction need to be re-imposed if Iran get caught violating the P5+1 deal.

•According to the framework for a deal released before the JCPOA was finalized, America was told that Iran would reveal the details of their nuclear program from its inception to the time the deal was made. We were told that as part of the agreement Iran would have to “fess up” to the U.N. inspectors about their previous nuclear activity. By understanding the Iranian nuclear program before the agreement, the IAEA will know how, when, and where to inspect their program in the future. Two weeks after the JCPOA was agreed to, the Wall Street Journal revealed that Iran had refused to provide the information; the administration stopped asking. 

•The deal gives Tehran leverage to blackmail the West, since the Iranians can walk away from the JCPOA with a 35-day notice. Under Paragraph 36, Iran can claim that any of the P5+1 is “not meeting its commitments” under the agreement. That triggers a 35-day set of meetings. Once that clock runs, Iran can claim the issue “has not been resolved to [its] satisfaction” and that it “deems” that the issue “constitutes significant non-performance.” Iran can then “cease performing its commitments under this JCPOA in whole or in part.”

•Iran gets to “self-inspect” at the Parchin military site. Before the agreement, the IAEA sought access to the Parchin site which has long been suspected of being the location where Iran was developing its detonation systems for nuclear weapons. In 2014, Iran even admitted to using Parchin to test exploding bridge wires, which are used as nuclear detonators. During a Senate Foreign Relations Committee meeting, Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs Wendy Sherman promised lawmakers that IAEA inspectors would be able to inspect Parchin. But that didn’t happen; instead, they allowed Iran to sign a secret side deal with the IAEA permitting the Iranians to self-inspect the facility. 

Other items kept from Congress and/or the public:

•According to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Iran broke the terms of the heavy water provisions of the deal twice in 2016, in February and November, but President Obama let them off the hook.

•A secret side deal discovered by the Associated Press in April 2016 allows Iran to upgrade and modernize its centrifuges and increase its enriching capacity, all before the deal officially expires in 15 years.

In September 2016, the Institute for Science and International Security reported that in another secret deal “the joint commission agreed to exempt unknown quantities of 3.5 percent LEU contained in liquid, solid and sludge wastes stored at Iranian nuclear facilities. … If the total amount of excess LEU Iran possesses is unknown, it is impossible to know how much weapons-grade uranium it could yield.”

•The Iran deal significantly reduces reporting requirements about Iran’s nuclear program that existed before, according to IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano.

•The IAEA told Senator Tom Cotton and CIA Director Mike Pompeo (who at that time, in July 2015, was a Republican congressman from Kansas) that there are two secret side deals to the nuclear agreement with Iran that will not be shared with other nations, with Congress, or with the U.S. public. Those side deals may or may not be the ones revealed above. At the time, the only side deal that was already known was Iran’s self-inspections of Parchin, so it wasn’t that one.

Apparently, there are dozens of other Iran nuke deal-related documents which are not even classified secret, but which the Obama administration nonetheless refused to release. There are broad suspicions that those documents contain embarrassing concessions to Iran: both additional U.S. obligations and exemptions from Iranian obligations.

As a technical matter, it would be straightforward to release those documents. As a political matter, the Obama administration has consistently had trouble explaining why the public shouldn’t see them. There was some discussion of President Trump releasing these documents when he took office but he never has.

The National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), which was the first to reveal elements of the Iran nuclear program to the world, claimed in April 2017 that the rogue regime has not stopped its nuclear weapons program despite the P5+1 deal. Two independent nuclear investigators examined the NCRI evidence and concluded their findings are plausible but they couldn’t confirm them until the locations inside Iran where the work was being done were personally examined. 

In conclusion, I admit my belief that even without the presented here, the JCPOA is bad for the United States because it restricts the U.S. more than it restricts Iran. However, considering the parts of the deal kept secret from America and Congress, there is no reason the U.S. should stay in this horrible agreement. The information presented here gives President Trump enough reason to pull out of the deal, but he has much more information than do American citizens without security clearance.